How we’ll (possibly) reach Palau without flying (from Hong Kong)

Day 2,934 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

Slow and steady wins the race

pano

I highly doubt that there is anyone, anywhere, who wants to see the end of Once Upon A Saga more than I do. The difference for some may be that I want to see it completed successfully.

Last week’s entry: Let it burn!! (from Hong Kong)

In a close cooperation with the Palauan Presidency (wow!), we have found a solution to how I can enter their great island nation without flying. The overall complications of course lie within the COVID-19 pandemic which is still very much alive. It is not lost on me that some people think the pandemic is mostly over now. Within my own country Denmark, it is. Life has returned to normal in Denmark and you can easily visit my country, and at least twenty others, if only you are vaccinated. However, if you check in with e.g. Russia or Brazil then you will get a completely different story. Palau has much like Hong Kong handled the pandemic quite well. And Palau is now open to quarantine free tourism if you are vaccinated and arrive on a vessel, also with everyone vaccinated. I received my second jab on April 7th which is six months ago. The Palauan Health Ministry investigated if I possibly needed a booster shot before departure. Hong Kong is currently not offering booster shots and it is unclear when that might begin. Therefore, we agreed that I would need to be tested for COVID-19 prior to embarking the vessel, that the vessels operators (PIL) should provide official documentation on infection control measures implemented for vessel operations, as well as health management protocols for personnel. In addition, I must also complete a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Palau. That all seems doable to me. The reason for all of this is because I will be traveling onboard a containership and the entire crew is unlikely to have been vaccinated.

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Having a good time with PIL in Singapore, 2019, "The Penthouse".

That brings us to Pacific International Lines (PIL). PIL is a leading shipping company which has assisted the Saga three times before. PIL committed to support the Saga throughout the Pacific after we had a few laughs together during a Saga-presentation back in 2019. I was invited to speak at “The Penthouse” which is situated on top of their building in Singapore. Once Upon A Saga would likely have reached its final country around October 2020 without the pandemic getting in the way. PIL is currently looking into what is possible. The ship which I will embark doesn’t go directly between Hong Kong and Palau. It goes from Hong Kong to Kaohsiung (Taiwan), Guam (USA), Saipan (USA), Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) and then finally Palau. It is a fifteen-day journey and PIL needs to ensure that none of the ports along route have restrictions prohibiting a passenger being onboard the vessel. Now, we can all agree that it shouldn’t be a problem as I am not disembarking the vessel anywhere else than in Palau. However, we can surely also agree that not everything makes sense during the pandemic. Outside of the pandemic it was already a requirement that I acquired a USA visa prior to being on the ship within USA territory. Yeah – flying is somewhat easier than what we’re doing ;) I got my visa for the USA while in the Marshall Islands and it is valid for ten years. Anyway, we are currently waiting for PIL to return with some good news so we can be on our way. Understandably this will take some time. I trust that PIL is doing everything they can but they are naturally subject to national restrictions. Fingers crossed.

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Escapism for me is often found in watching a movie. It can block out a couple of hours and make me forget everything else. In this shot I was watching "Pusher II" from 2004.

I am grateful for all the support. Imagine to have the support from the Presidency of a country! That is simply outstanding. And to have the support from multiple shipping companies to be able to travel onboard containerships! Fantastic! And the support from all our project partners and so many people following online. For all of that I am grateful. I am also quite tired and feel that eight years has been a really long time. I recently spoke with a good friend back home who mentioned that he might respect me more if I threw in the towel and returned home before reaching the last country. I fully understand him. There is no way we will reach the final nine in less than ten months and with the current complications it will take longer. I also feel socially exhausted…sort of around 80% full. In recent days I have been viewing myself as a “bucket” which is filling up. A bucket with a hole in the bottom. Under optimal conditions the bucket is nearly always empty as whatever pours in can easily run out through the hole in the bottom. But if too much flows in all at once then the bucket slowly fills up. Reaching the top of the bucket would result in an overflow and we don’t want that. I feel socially and mentally exhausted and need less pressure and more success. And I need some alone time too. It’s all between the ears. Of course it is. But isn’t everything?

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What does 'S' stand for? I'll be running in my Salomon gear tomorrow. And behind me you see the Ross banner which has been with me for eight years!

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Green is running. Blue is likely uphill. And red is sprinting! :)

Let’s move on to something else now. Last Monday I had a successful trail run across the first half of the HK50 trail. The first half is about 25km (15.5mi) across several mountains. Temperatures have dropped recently making it a lot easier to cope and I was able to create my personal best time across the distance with a time just below 3 hours! I was very happy that result!! Immediately after I met two nice South Africans who just did it in 2 hours and 6 minutes!! They looked like they had been sculpted by Michelangelo. One of them, Jan from Pretoria, will also be competing in the HK50 tomorrow. While I will be happy simply completing the ultra-distance race, I can imagine Jan clocking it in just 6 hours. I am not an athlete…I’m just stubborn ;) My injured ankle hasn’t quite recovered. Last Monday when I did my best time, I estimated that it had recovered approximately 60%. Now it’s closer to 80%. I don’t feel any pain while walking or running. But I do feel that my ankle is weaker and that I will not be able to recover within the race if I twist it. It is simply not strong enough. So, I better not twist it! It feels like driving a car without a seatbelt. As long as I’m not in an accident I’ll be fine.

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Temporary reverend Margith at MTL pier 9. The Seamen's Church has employed a new fulltime reverend who will replace Margith in December.

There have been few ships to service this month through my job as an assistant at the Danish Seamen’s Church in Hong. The job which effectively keeps me from being deported out of Hong Kong. Containerships follow a set schedule akin to a city bus. They go round, and round, and round calling the same ports until they again reach Hong Kong. As such some months are busy while others are quieter on that front. There have been other activities instead such as getting ready for the Christmas Bazar. Last Sunday reverend Margith held a Confirmation for Martin and Axel. Within the Protestant faith confirmation is seen as a rite of passage or initiation to full Christian discipleship. It is a symbolic act allowing the baptized person to make a mature statement of faith. This was obviously a special day for both Martin and Axel and certainly also for their parents. Congratulations to everyone.

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Sct. Paul's Chapel last Sunday.

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Martin and Axel. Technically men now :)

In all honesty the prospects of being able to leave Hong Kong soon, after such a long wait, is weighing in heavily on me. Both getting my hopes up but also the fragility of it all. If the plan falls apart now then it will be a hard blow for me. I will recover as I have already done a hundred times before but I’d much rather that it succeeds. The plan would still be to return to Hong Kong after Palau so I wouldn’t really be saying farewell to Hong Kong just yet. Hong Kong has undoubtedly gained a special place within my heart and so have many of the people I have met here. 633 days is no small amount of time. Not as much as the 2,934 days since I left home, but still a long time. The nutcases and I meet up for a fast-paced hike every Thursday followed by dinner. Anita and I occasionally sit down and have dumplings followed by a foot massage. My network within Hong Kong has since I arrived grown following a linear pattern and I enjoy meeting a variety of different people on a regular basis. The Danish community here is great! Both locals and expats alike. The mountains, the different neighborhoods, the food, the nature, the opportunities…

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I went to have an antibody test and spotted this at the hospital. Someone is well paid :)

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This statue at HKU (Hong Kong University) called "The Pillar of Shame" is gaining notoriety. I went to see it. The statue was made by a fairly unknown Danish artist named Jens Galschiøt.

On a final note, I thought I’d just enlighten you all a bit on why I am careful in relation to political topics. Overall, I believe that a guest, at least at first, should try to remain neutral on political and religious topics to avoid friction and tension. There is so much else to focus on. I view myself as a guest anywhere else than within the Kingdom of Denmark in the High North of Europe. There I am home and can say whatever I want. Out here in the world I observe and do my best to stay neutral. It serves the purpose of not offending anyone. Although these days you can also offend people by simply being neutral. Furthermore, it makes it so much easier for people, companies, organizations and governments to collaborate with Once Upon A Saga. I have already dropped a few metaphors on you and here’s a final one. Picture reaching every country in the world in an unbroken journey without flying as a card house. In this case a 203-card strong card house. We have spent the past eight years building a formidable card house out of the first 194 cards!! We are left with only nine cards! It requires a steady hand to place these cards on top of the others. We wouldn’t want to lose what we have built so far. This is a good time to be careful. And like the morality story of the hare and the tortoise; it was the tortoise which won the race ;)

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I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

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If you enjoyed this blog or think I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga still needs funding. Thank you :)

 

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Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - this could be what we've been waiting for!

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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Let it burn!! (from Hong Kong)

Day 2,927 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

Eight years later

pano

It has now been eight years since I left home. So, there’s that. But, there’s also the story of the HK Hot Wings Experience, a twisted ankle, a few typhoons and good news regarding Palau.

Last week’s entry: Sunk cost and the Saga (from Hong Kong)

Let’s start off with my ankle. I have quietly been training for the HK50 race which was supposed to take place last Sunday. It’s a 50km (31mi) trail run with a 2,212m (7,257ft) elevation gain. The cut-off is set at ten hours. I was hoping that I would be on a ship heading towards Palau long before the race date – but obviously Sunday came and went with me still in Hong Kong. Last Friday (two days before the race) I was walking down some stairs when I suddenly lost one second of my life. It is hard to explain. It felt like a system reboot. Everything went black for a second or less and the next thing I knew was that I had missed two steps on the staircase and my right foot was coming down at a twisted angle with my full bodyweight on top of it. I heard a sound akin to when crushing a plastic cup and then felt the immediate pain. What the heck happened? I was on my way out of the building to go and get a PCR test some ten minutes walking distance from where I live. Could I still step on my foot? Yeah. It felt a little weird but not painful. So, I kept going while wondering about what had really happened? I was in and out of the test center in just a couple of minutes and then made the walk back. After taking my shoes off I decided to rest for a bit and laid down in my bed. I took my socks off and noticed my ankle was swollen. Darn it! Two days to the race. Now what.

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While I probably could have made it through the race on my slightly injured ankle, I also knew that the race wasn’t going to make things better. Could it possibly cause a long-lasting injury? Well, that weekend we had a lot of rain in Hong Kong and the race organizers eventually cancelled the event and moved it 13 days into the future to the scheduled backup date. It has been a week now since I twisted my ankle and it’s still not well. Even a bit swollen. But I have been out for a run and it went well so I think I’ll dare the race if I’m still here on October 23rd. I’m guessing I am but more about that in a moment. The hard rain here in Hong Kong wasn’t a coincidence. Typhoons have been whizzing by left and right lately. We haven’t taken a direct hit though so we were "only" left with occasional wind and a few rainstorms. Hong Kong is truly fascinating! While certain areas quickly got flooded it took very little time for the water to recede. The urban underground drainage system here is world class!! Well, a few days later another typhoon formed east of the Philippines. And much like the previous one it headed north, capped the top of the Philippines, turned left (away from Hong Kong) and continued to Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Hong Kong partially shuts down during such instances and the government warns people to stay inside. But Hong Kong is home to 7.5 million beating hearts so you always have some people out and about.

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Hard to tell if there's anyone out there when it rains this hard!

The HK Hot Wings Experience was a massive success!! And what an experience to sit down among friends and devour ten spicy chicken wings, gradually getting more and more spicy until the last one. We have all tried spicy food at some point. Maybe you love it and maybe you don’t. But what would it be like to bite into some of the spiciest hot sauce known to mankind? Aren’t you just a bit curious? I certainly was! We got the hot sauces from Fiyah Heat Store in Hong Kong. Eight of them turned out to be from the USA, one was from Canada and one was from Dublin in Ireland of all places. The twelve contenders were: Amy (Hong Kong), Poul (Denmark), Christian (Denmark), Kai (Thailand), Jakob (Denmark), Jesper (Denmark), Rose (Hong Kong), Kenneth (Denmark), Louise (Denmark), Luis (Hong Kong), Thomas (Hong Kong) and myself. We had a bunch of spectators too: Margith, Hans, Jessi, Frank, Camilla, Sofie and Anton. Denmark is known for the concept of “hygge” which essentially means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. And we certainly enjoyed that!

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Kenneth and Rose did a superb job preparing the wings! :)

Patrik Wallner is a friend of mine and he was there filming everything. Patrik is a very skillful artist and we were lucky to have him. He works professionally with known brands such as Red Bull and Adidas, for whom he produces skateboarding videos, being a skateboarder himself as well. His content has even made it on ‘Last Week Tonight’ with Jon Oliver. You wouldn’t know it from meeting him because Patrik is a very down to earth and humble guy. Patrik showed up with two cameras and attached a microphone to me. One camera was static and he kept the other handheld while moving about between us. It is arguably the BEST video on Once Upon A Saga’s YouTube channel now and has already received a lot of praise. If anything, Patrik certainly caught the hygge of our HK Hot Wings Experience. I hope you’ll like it too.

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Click HERE or on image to watch the event.

Something special happened after we were done eating the hot wings. The atmosphere was magical. Everybody was in a really good mood and chatting away. And what I soon realized was that everyone had their own personal story which they were dying to tell!! Twelve people who had all had a taste of some severely hot chicken wings! “I didn’t like the taste of…the one which got me was…I couldn’t make it past number…the best one was number…” It had been a true experience for so many people including myself. And we caught it on video! How amazing! What a precious memory from Hong Kong :)

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Immediately after the HK Hot Wings Experience: Amy, Poul, Christian, Kai, Jakob, Jesper, Rose, Kenneth, Louise, Luis, Thomas and myself. Well done everyone!

And what about Palau? Well, that pacific paradise, consisting of more than 200 small volcanic and coral islands, remains exactly where it was when we first reached Hong Kong for transit purposes more than 600 days ago. And yet, we may be closer to reaching Palau than any time since then. There has been a breakthrough. Our Dutch friend Roel, who is certainly a stranger turned friend, has done a lot of networking and footwork on our behalf in Palau. So much so, that I was contacted by a couple of members from President Whipps Jr. (what a name) legal team. We had a zoom call the other day and it was a delightful conversation. The two ladies also became my first interaction with Palauan’s which was quite exciting on its own. They were really sweet and very helpful. Palau is actually open for quarantine free tourism but it requires that you arrive on a vessel with everyone being vaccinated. This is easily done with an airplane. It’s not hard to get the flight crew vaccinated and demand that all passengers are vaccinated. It is however hard to find a containership where the entire crew from a multitude of nations are all vaccinated. And since I may be traveling to Palau onboard a ship alongside unvaccinated crew members, I need the support from Palau’s government to disembark. During the zoom call it quickly became clear that I have their support but we need to work out the details. Will I need to quarantine in Palau or not? Will I need a booster shot or not? It has after all been about six months since I got my second jab. And we also need the support of Pacific International Lines as they operate the vessels. So, think about this: in order for the plan to succeed we need Presidential approval along with access to a containership during a global pandemic. A tall order! Well, we’ve had Presidential approval to enter a country before (Ivory Coast during the Ebola epidemic) and we’ve been granted access to board containerships before. But my goodness – life could certainly be a lot simpler than this. I can only dream about waking up next to my wife back home in Denmark.

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It's not easy people. But I'm still fighting for it.

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3.5 years ago...

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Photo by Maxime Champigneulle. Graphics by Reto Fehr.

I’m looking forward to reaching Palau and showing you all what the island nation looks like through my eyes. Meanwhile we are holding on here in Hong Kong more than eight years into a nearly impossible project. While I do try my best to keep my spirits up it is pure madness what I have overcome at this point. And on top of everything else the past 600 days in Hong Kong have been a mental war between giving up and heading home vs sticking with it and reaching the final nine countries. My friend Jessi suggested I could make use of the World Mental Health Day 2021 which coincided with the eight-year day of Once Upon A Saga: October 10th 2021. But I opted not to do so. It is tempting to “burn it all” and head home. Eight years is a really long time to stay focused and motivated. A really long time. But it’s not like there’s nothing to show for it. The world deserves a positive promotion. Too much is far too often overlooked and overshadowed. The world is not a perfect place but it is in far better shape than most people know and believe. We have reached 194 countries from the targeted 203 leaving us with 9 to go. There has been something nice to say about each country. There has been something interesting to learn. And most importantly there has always been someone kind to meet. Yeah, so for now let the only burning be the one of some really hot sauce.

 

 

I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop

 

If you enjoyed this blog or think I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga still needs funding. Thank you :)

 

 Patreon Picture2MobilePay

 

Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - grateful to Ross DK & GEOOP!

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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Sunk cost and the Saga (from Hong Kong)

Day 2,920 since October 10th 2013: 194 countries out of 203. No flight, no return home, min 24 hrs in each country and 1 pandemic!

(The opinions expressed on this site are my own, and do not reflect the position or policies of the Danish Red Cross which I represent as a Goodwill Ambassador).

Two days away from being eight years away from home

pano

The kind journalistic work of Reto Fehr brought a lot of readers up to speed on the Saga in a recap which most people who found the Saga within the past few years have missed. I will include a link for those of you who have interest.

Last week’s entry: A week in pictures (from Hong Kong)

Let’s open up with a reminder to all that the world is in fact gradually becoming a better and better place. Not for everyone of course but for the majority. And not across the board because we certainly have issues – but still. In some of the latest news, WHO recommends a groundbreaking malaria vaccine for children at risk. And that is GREAT NEWS!! The vaccine is thought to have a 75% efficacy. A word I suppose we all have learned by now. More than 400,000 people die from the mosquito born decease every year from more than 200 million cases globally. I was treated for cerebral malaria back in 2015, which is the kind that goes to your brain. It could have been the end of me within a few days had I not received treatment. But ultra-wifey (back then my girlfriend) was by my side when I got sick and she forced me to see a doctor. I might have avoided visiting a clinic under the belief that it was just something benign which I could treat with rest, water and painkillers. It turned out to be a heck of a thing! After about ten days on medication, I was treated, but still so weak that I couldn’t carry my bags and keep on travelling. So, I had to stay another week to regain strength. And what a vacation for ultra-wifey that was. Well, now we have a WHO recommended vaccine. I wonder if they will run into yet another antivaxxer storm with this one? A lot of malaria death’s take place in children below the age of five.

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Nice to see a driver with a living plant within his vehicle. Go green ;)

Chinese National Day came and went. It was the 1st of October and the first day of a week-long holiday. While Hong Kong is a part of China there is certainly a bit of “crowbar separation” and a reluctance to celebrate the day which marks the formation of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Personally, I did not observe that anything was closed or different in Hong Kong compared to any other week of the year. The seven-day holiday from October 1st to 7th is called 'Golden Week' and generally a time during which a large number of Chinese people go traveling around the country. But if you’re in Hong Kong then where are you going to go? You can literally run from one side of Hong Kong to the other in less than a day. Traveling internationally comes at a great cost as a 14-day mandatory hotel quarantine is enforced on your return. Quite problematic for a lot of people to say the least. Travel for a business meeting: 14 days quarantine. Travel for a funeral: 14 days quarantine. Travel to meet a siblings first born: 14 days quarantine. You get the picture… Well, the Savagars invited me to join them for dinner during the ‘Golden Week’ and that’s always well worthwhile. Especially if Cassie is cooking. The Savagars were the family which hosted me for my first five months in Hong Kong back when we were all hoping that the virus would go away much sooner. They are a family of four, plus a domestic helper, so five familiar faces which very much feel like family to me. We had homemade pulled pork burgers which were fantastic. The boys were busy with friends and parties while Cassie (China), James (UK) and I sat and talked. At some point the conversation landed on the Saga and the big investment in getting this far. In almost unison I heard Cassie and James utter the words: ‘sunk cost’.

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This is okay. But five people sitting at the same table isn't.

It seems like a term I would have read about more than twenty years ago while in business school. We spoke a bit about sunk costs and once I got back home, I looked it up to do a bit more research. And that lead me to the ‘Sunk Cost Fallacy’. Sunk cost is everything you have invested in something which you will never get back e.g.: time, effort, or money. The sunk cost fallacy relates to continuing on the same path for no other reason than that you are invested. It could relate to staying in an unhealthy relationship simply because you have already spent years together. It could be finishing a bad book or movie only because you have already endured 20% and might as well keep going. The sunk costs fallacy is often used within business cases when e.g., weighing out whether or not to keep some equipment, an employee or an investment. The fallacy comes into play when the investment which cannot be recovered overshadows the decision to cut loose and move on. And this is naturally quite relevant to me and my personal investment of time, resources and emotions to be where I am today. It is not a joke when I say I have been wanting to return home since 2015. It may have been as much as 80% adventure, thrill and enjoyment when I left home in 2013 and 20% work, disappointment, pain and misery. But the balance gradually shifted. I’m lucky if its 20% adventure, thrill and enjoyment by now. So, should I just cut my losses and go home? The time spent is never coming back. All the energy I have spent is also not coming back. Those are sunk cost. If I take that into account while making a choice to stay within the Saga or go home…then that would be the fallacy. I have invested more than 600 days of my life hoping to see the pandemic ease up and find an opening to reach the final nine countries. That time spent is not coming back and I should not consider that investment in relation to how much longer I am willing to wait. At least not in a fashion which reflects that I might as well wait a little longer because I have waited this long already.

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Click HERE or on the image to read Reto Fehr's powerful article.

What I need to consider is the potential value of completing the Saga while weighing out the potential loss over the next likely two years to get there. Could I return home now, write a book and inspire people by telling them about my story? Yes, I could. Would the story be much better if I reached the final nine countries? Probably not. Will it have a huge impact for me or anyone else whether I reach every country completely without flying or not? Hard to say – it could inspire generations to come. Will the Red Cross benefit from a completion of this project or take a loss if I gave up? To be honest…I don’t think the Red Cross could care less. I mostly feel like I’m completely forgotten and of no importance to the movement…so no, I do not believe the Red Cross would care if I went home. What about my family, friends, followers and fans? Well, they are a mixed lot and some would certainly be upset if I quit but everyone would find a way to continue their lives. So…why I am I still out here? To potentially inspire a few people in the future? Nah – I think it’s for a few other reasons. Since 2013 I have been promoting countries positively across various platforms. Something I believe is dearly needed to contrast much of the negative news. This is however something I could easily do for the final nine countries by flying to them. So, the “every country without flying” element is not a necessity. And neither is the completion of the Saga to draw media attention (to promote values) as the Saga would likely receive plenty of attention in the event it was aborted. Finally, I could weigh in the historical element of doing something which has never been done before. But again, we are not exactly curing cancer, with the exceptions that fighting for the overall completion might inspire a student to fight harder for an exam, graduate and discover the cure for cancer? Hmmm…it’s odd with inspiration, isn’t it? Is the world a better place because mountaineers successfully reached the peak of Mt. Everest in 1953? Who’s to say? No – important elements of completing the Saga lie primarily in two aspects: 1) there is no telling what the potential could be of inspiring just one individual, and 2) on a personal level, when I look at myself in a mirror, I would much rather be the man who completed what he set out to do rather than the one who didn’t.

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Enough about the sunk cost fallacy. I believe I’m still fighting for the right reasons and not to compensate for what has already been lost. Let’s instead move on to the annual occurring ‘National Collection Day’ (landsindsamling) of the Danish Red Cross (DRC). Because that took place last Sunday. It’s a unique event where the DRC mobilizes THOUSANDS of extra volunteers to go from door to door nationwide, asking for donations, within a span of just THREE hours. And the results speak for themselves, although they have been declining over the years:

2020: DKK 13.5 million (USD 2.1 million)

2019: DKK 16 million (USD 2.5 million)

2018: DKK 16 million (USD 2.5 million)

2017: DKK 18.4 million (USD 2.9 million)

2016: DKK 19.4 million (USD 3 million)

2015: DKK 25.5 million (USD 4 million)

The money goes to support the most vulnerable people within several of the world’s hotspots. On the day itself siblings, friends, couples, relatives and even first dates, get out into the streets, knocking on doors and chiming doorbells. The following day (last Monday) volunteers received an email thanking them with information of the amount they individually collected while providing links to share on social media. So that’s an all-round good event which raises funds for humanitarian work, offers a nice day with loved ones, and generates a lot of visibility for the DRC. In case you are Danish and missed it then you still have a chance to place a donation: SMS - send GIV250 til 1290 (kr 250) or MobilePay – 91345 or Bank - 4183 6275400. One of the last things I did before leaving Denmark was to volunteer for the DRC National Collection Day together with my sister and we had a really nice time. There are undoubtedly many reasons why the collected amount has been declining over the years and I could probably mention a few. But I would much rather inform you that this year broke the trend as the DRC raised: DKK 15.5 million (USD 2.4 million). Let’s hope they make it back to 2015 levels soon.

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On a rooftop in Hong Kong with the worlds most traveled collection canister.

Yeah – it’s been a week. There is no news in relation to Palau but I have confidence in Roel who’s our man on the ground. He keeps telling me not to give up. I look forward to meeting him some day. New Zealand is now saying what many of us have known for a while: a zero-tolerance strategy is not feasible with the Delta variant in play. So now New Zealand is working towards getting more of their population vaccinated and opening up internationally by early 2022. That sounds a lot like Australia’s strategy, only they announced it a little earlier. Australia is going to be really interesting as it’s down to state level when they will open up, effectively meaning that an Australian from one state could travel internationally but might not be able to cross certain state boarders domestically. What a strange time we are living in. Waiting to see the end of this pandemic has been no picnic. 600+ days on top of all the years which preceded our arrival to Hong Kong has been a huge mental ordeal for me. And it continued to be. Furthermore, a great investment in how my life is spent. But we are now well into October and if Australia and New Zealand are opening up in January then there is certainly light at the end of the tunnel.

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I trail ran this a few days ago. It is about half of this years HK50 race which takes place on Sunday. I'm participating and not feeling confident at all.

And spending all of this time in Hong Kong has far from been bad. Hong Kong is arguably one of the very best places in the world to ride out a global pandemic. I understand those Hongkongers that are wary about the Hong Kong National Security Law which was passed on June 30th 2020. Nobody wants to lose any of their rights. Reality is however, that we all lose rights all the time as society moves forward. There was a time when you could simply build a house in any remote spot and declare it your home. Try pitching a tent most places today and see what happens. Well, fair enough – Hong Kong’s case is special. But there is still much to be appreciative of within Hong Kong and most normal lives go on completely unaffected by the National Security Law. On another note, Hong Kong is the kind of place where you can get nearly anything. And it’s also a place with good movie theaters and the latest movies. Last week I found time to go and see ‘Dune’ which blew me away. I was suddenly a ten-year-old kid again wanting to be a Jedi. Only Frank Herbert’s novel of six books does not relate to Jedi’s at all. It is a story told 20,000 years into the future long after humanity agreed never to develop artificial intelligence again. It tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose family accepts the stewardship of the planet Arrakis. While the planet is an inhospitable and sparsely populated desert wasteland, it is the only source of melange, or "the spice," a drug that extends life and enhances mental abilities. Melange is also necessary for space navigation, which requires a kind of multidimensional awareness and foresight that only the drug provides. The 2021 film is astonishing! And I somewhat felt at home on the desert planet which in many ways had me thinking of my years in Libya and the Berbers. Oh well, my friend Thomas enjoys science fiction and I was happy to see it again with him. We also invited Jessi. You might recognize Jessi as the woman who opens the door for me 30 seconds into this short video I made at Anantara, Al Jabal Al Akhdar, resort back in 2018. That was when Jessi and I first met. A lot of water under the bridge since then.

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At the movie theater with Jessi.

You know what? I actually found time to catch two movies this week. The latest James Bond had its world premiere and I couldn’t pass on that one. Jessi joined me and together we sat through what I think was the best Daniel Craig Bond movie since Casino Royal. And it contains a truly powerful love story. At least for me. It’s not your typical James Bond and I can see why the movie might upset a great deal of people. But it is however a great action movie in my opinion, it contains a lot of great scenes and it plays tribute to many old Bond classics. Yeah – Jessi and I watched James Bond and then a few days later Jessi, Thomas and I watched Dune. After the movie the three of us were looking for a place to sit down and talk about the movie. Thomas (of the Andersen Clan) has lived more than half his life in Hong Kong and suggested we would head up to ‘Felix’ which is a bar and restaurant which sits on top of the historical and prestigious Hotel Peninsula. And that was a real pleasure. Thomas told us that ‘Felix’ would usually be full of people. But we were the only ones there. Pandemic or timing? Who is to say? We had a good time before I went home to get some sleep.

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A 4.5 million USD Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Continuation car at display at The Peninsula Hotel. 

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Thomas and Jessi chatting away at the very empty 'Felilx' after the movie.

Last night I met up with the nutcases for our weekly two-hour hike. We had received monsoon warnings and the ‘My Observatory’ app also warned of a nearby typhoon which was heading close by but turned off in direction of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.  For the first 80 minutes we had a nice dry hike but the rain caught up with us towards the end. A lot of it! Poul, who’s now back in Hong Kong after a trip to Denmark, was ready with dry t-shirts for all of us and a spectacular home cooked meal. It’s always good to see the nutcases. And today, Friday October 8th 2021, is the day of the Hong Kong Hot Wings Experience!! I will be joined by 11 friends in our attempt to each eat ten chicken wings which each get progressively hotter until the last one which has been seasoned with a 3 million Scoville hot sauce. To be continued…

 

 

I would like to thank our esteemed partners for their invaluable contributions to Once Upon A Saga: DB Schenker Denmark, Kameli, Red Sand Solutions, Salomon, the Danish Red Cross and Ross DK / Geoop

Hi Res with Geoop

 

If you enjoyed this blog or think I am doing a good job then you can support here below. The Saga still needs funding. Thank you :)

 

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Best regards
Mr. Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - really, really, really tired.

"A stranger is a friend you've never met before"

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